The breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk republics next to the border with Russia are known as Donbass. The two republics declared independence from Kiev in 2014, and there has since been an ongoing civil war.
Under the Minsk Agreement, the sides agreed to pull troops back from the separation line by two kilometres. But instead of being the buffer zone, these villages witness war every day and suffer from its consequences.
Locals live without water or electricity for days. Children play with the remnants of war. They call their villages the ‘grey zone’. For years, Ukrainian troops have been engaging in what the media calls a creeping offensive, getting closer to the ‘grey zone’ villages.
Donbass: The Grey Zone explores life on the frontline, as locals share their accounts of the war. Aleksandr, 80, describes how he lost his entire family killed in a mortar attack. Now he’s the only one in his village who fixes damaged electrical cables. We meet Margarita, who talks casually about mortar ammunition her daughter finds in the yard. Finally, high school student, Denis gives us a tour around his abandoned school.
Nearly 4,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the civil war.